Bread fruit is an amazing fruit, with an amazing story!
In preparation for our local food week, I have been on the look out for great ingredients in place of rice, pastas and stuff like that. I saw heaps of bread fruit at Rapid Creek Markets on Sunday and was reminded of this great story and some great recipes. I haven’t cooked with it much in Darwin, it is not always at the market, but someone has a loaded tree right now! . And wow it is delicious.
I was lucky enough to sail to, and hang out on Pitcairn Island- a small and remote rocky island, home to real story of the mutiny on the Bounty- which was transporting heaps of bread fruit and bread fruit plants, from the orient, to the Caribbean to be a staple, like bread, for the slaves there (in 1790). This incredible fruit never made it there on that occasion, because, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean the crew of the ship got pretty over the Captain and sent him over board in a small boat and took control of the ship!
They picked up some ladies in Tahiti and headed off into the sunset, until they landed on an uninhabited rocky island and made it home, and garden to plenty of Breadfruit (and sank their ship, so as not to be found). Above is our ship- The Soren Larsen, on which I was cook and deckhand on this incredible journey.
The whole Pitcairn story is also a bit rocky and colourful ,some deadly fights and some community making. Once the mutineers and their offspring made contact, the island became a bit of a stop off for sailing boats and food was traded, which was grown on this now garden island. The British Navy was impressed when they eventually visited and did not arrest the last remaining mutineer and left them all to it. It really is like a garden Oasis. There were ups and downs and the story is long.
When we sailed here only 52 people remained (this is 6 years ago). We were taken out bread fruit hunting! The trees are huge beautiful trees, often too tall to climb (well bullets are cheap enough!) and the bread fruit are shot on the stem by one person, while another goes under the fruit and catches it in a net! The greatest harvesting I have seen.
The photos above show banana leaves, and the bread fruit shooting (by the way- Breadfruit is a lot taller and a bit out of the photos!) Also pictured is the ship, Soren Larsen, I worked on for a year as cook and deckhand and learnt some of my tropical cooking skills. On Pitcairn we stayed with one of the Christian families, Carol and her children, who we stayed with and who took us some wanders, we also checked out the plant nursery, growing natives to replant, a funded initiative. We also had a wild ocean side bath. There is no airport or even sealed road on this random rockiness, islanders sell cook books and stamps and other nick-nacks online and to passersby and they have 1000 recipes for bread fruit..
.. so back to bread fruit (Atrocarpus utilus) closely related to a Jack fruit. A tree, too big to plant in a suburban yard really, but a wonderful tree and very useful fruits. The flesh is rich a creamy, better than a potato I reckon. Cut off the skin and cut out the very core. We made bread fruit chips and then “boil – up”, bread fruit, boiled till tender, then added to coconut milk (home made of course!) with onion, chili, garlic, local herbs, salt and pepper. A bit of a Caribbean classic! I added zinnia petals for a splash of colour… these are edible.
These bread fruit chips were pre boiled then roasted in the oven in sun flower oil, a great side with home made mayo..
For more info on Pacific and tall ship sailing and the Soren Larsen visit http://www.sydneytallships.com.au/offshore/